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The Christmas Minefield

Sara Stythe by Sara Stythe Additional Needs

Sara Stythe

Sara Stythe

By sharing our experiences of what it is like raising a child with special needs people can understand our little people a bit better. Hopefully th...

Christmas is such an exciting time for all children including those with special needs.....or is it?

I realised a while ago that all special needs children are not alike.

This was while attending a Christmas Party especially for “Special Children”.

The organisers had the best of intentions at heart trying to create a special day for all involved.

They had gone all out with balloons and a band. They even had Storm Troopers approaching you when you entered. As you can imagine for a child with autism this is their worst nightmare!

This was certainly the case for our daughter Isla. She has a rare chromosome deletion causing autism and epilepsy. Like most children with autism she has sensory issues and anxiety.

The sensory overload was actually more than I could handle so I can only imagine what it would have been like for Isla.

I just presumed being for “Special Children” it would have been a sensory friendly event.

I was certainly not prepared for all the stimulus that was going on around us.

Our time spent there was fairly brief. Luckily at that stage she was still little enough for me to carry her out of the situation with balloons popping and noise all around us.

In the past balloons popping have been enough to trigger a seizure so the fear is real.

However there were plenty of children having a lovely time enjoying all the celebrations on offer.

There were also quite a few that were also melting down so we were certainly not alone.

It became clear to me then, as obvious as it may seem, that all children with a disability don't have the sensory sensitivities that autism brings.

On that day there was definitely a realisation of what our limitations were. Even being at an event for Special Needs children we still couldn't fit or join in.

Since then we have not attended these types of events but there are certain times that cannot be avoided.

It feels a bit like dodging bombs in a minefield at this time of year. An announcement of "a surprise for the children" fills me with dread.

Children with autism don’t really like surprises. Well my child doesn’t.

The treat of Santa visiting to deliver presents will send my daughter diving under the nearest table shaking with fear.

The snow delivery at a school Christmas party is a real cause for concern with her fear of ice. Is pretty stressful managing all these situations for all concerned.

With the correct management and guidance (and medication) though she can sometimes now be a part of these festivities but I think is a relief for her when she gets home to her safe place.

With all of this to deal with she still looks forward to Christmas each year.

That's as long as we don't start being too festive too early.

The Christmas Tree is definitely not allowed up until 1st December!

We only now have to get through the main event and make sure Santa doesn't come anywhere near her bedroom and all will be fine.


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